Embrace, El Anatsui, 2009
I find El Anatsui’s use of material to be amazing. It is well executed and clean looking. He has completely transformed a material from garbage to an art object. I also respond strongly to the scale. If they were smaller I don’t think they would have the same effect at all. I love that he has taken a traditional art form, like weaving, and reinterpreted it into a new material and method. I also well to his use of color. I like that he is limited to what he finds. His work speaks for itself, and I feel that he has taken the time to find his cultural roots enough so that his work is honest and genuine.
Anatsui was born in Anyako, and trained at the College of Art, University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi, in central Ghana. He began teaching at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1975, and has become affiliated with the Nsukka group.
Anatsui’s preferred media are clay and wood, which he uses to create objects based on traditional Ghanaian beliefs and other subjects. He has cut wood with chainsaws and blackened it with acetylene torches; more recently, he has turned to installation art. Some of his works resemble woven cloths such as kente cloth. Anatsui also incorporates uli and nsibidi into his works alongside Ghanaian motifs.
El Anatsui has exhibited his work around the world, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2008–09); National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. (2008); Venice Biennale (2007); Hayward Gallery (2005); Liverpool Biennial (2002); the National Museum of African Art (2001); the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (2001);< the 8th Osaka Sculpture Triennale (1995); and the Venice Biennale (1990).